Which Super Bowl Spots Were Worth $5.2 Million?

Sunday night, Philadelphia brought home their first-ever Lombardi Trophy after defeating New England 41-33. In between the whistles, the cheers and the missed field goals came our favorite part as advertisers – the commercials.

Last week, we wrote an article that investigated the key aspects of a successful TV spot during The Big Game. These points included showcasing a new product, making it memorable and entertaining, not relying heavily on audio, and more. We let the dust settle, polled the staff at Hoffman York, and based on our research, here are the commercials we found to be worth the price of admission and some that should’ve been reconsidered. 

Worth It:

Tide – It’s a Tide Ad

Taking a different approach, Tide broke up its ad buys into a combination of long and short spots, all building off the last. In total, Tide had four spots and spent only $8.1 million according to CNBC. David Harbour, best known for his role in the hit Netflix series “Stranger Things”, had us second-guessing every ad: Is this a Tide Ad? This fun and unexpected approach starts by showing iconic images like the Budweiser Clydesdale, Mr. Clean's house and Isaiah Mustafa or “The Old Spice Guy”. Tide then enters the pasture, the home and the horseback to shock viewers that this is, in fact, a Tide Ad. They claim any ad with bright whites and clean clothes could be a Tide Ad. Over 44% of Hoffman York employees agreed, placing Tide in their top 5. Jim Roots, Director of Strategy & Analytics, chose Tide because “It actually sold the product, instead of just being humorous. By poking fun at other typical Super Bowl ads, it was effective by using them to further its own brand message.” Tide did a great job of appealing to the audience watching the game and providing an entertaining, memorable, and creative way to showcase their product’s key selling point- clean clothes.  Take notes for next year, Persil ProClean.

Amazon – Alexa Loses Her Voice

Users are willing to ask Alexa just about anything. In this playful spot, Alexa’s future-esque voice is replaced by Anthony Hopkins, Gordon Ramsey, Rebel Wilson, and Cardi B. Using a variety of stars helped Amazon connect with different audiences. Amazon was crowned the winner of USA Today’s annual Super Bowl Ad Meter with a 7.1 rating overall. HY Senior Social Media Strategist John Heavey deemed Amazon’s Alexa spot as one of the best ads during The Big Game: “Amazon’s spot echoed something we’ve collectively been thinking as a culture. And playfully jabbed it with well-executed humor. Tastefully executed humor is powerful.”  There were 22 other HY employees who agreed with John, putting Amazon’s Alexa spot in their top 5 from Sunday’s game. Amazon physically shows their product and uses humor to tell a story. What is life like without Alexa? We hope we never have to find out.


Not Worth It:

Ram Trucks – Built to Serve

In a terrible cringe-worthy spot, Ram used Martin Luther King’s 1968 speech “The Drum Major Instinct” to sell trucks. HY Executive Creative Director Dave Hanneken reflected on Ram’s spot, “There have been a lot of bad Super Bowl ads over the years, and this one may be at the top of my list.” Sprout Social found 48,777 mentions of the spot across social media with 81% of these mentions being negative. The team at HY agreed. The speech from Dr. King had nothing to do with Ram. Using an inspiring historical figure like MLK to sell a truck should scream too controversial to any marketer.

Ironically, later in Dr. King’s speech, not included in the Ram ad, he said, “Do you ever see people buy cars that they can't even begin to buy in terms of their income? You've seen people riding around in Cadillacs and Chryslers who don't earn enough to have a good T-Model Ford”. Who owns Ram you might ask? Chrysler. That’s going to be one expensive mistake to undo, even the Bud Knight can’t save you now.

Diet Coke –Twisted Mango

This ad was originally made for social media and frankly, we wish it would’ve stayed there. The ad was fairly plotless as actress Hayley Magnus dances with a new Mango Diet Coke, very awkwardly, we might add. The 30-second $5.2 million spot was improvised and filmed in one take according to AdAge. After their soaring success in 2017, we were expecting great things from the Coca-Cola brand. Just over 12% of Hoffman York agreed placing the Diet Coke ad in their top 5 worst ads, not worth the $5.2 million, from 2018’s Big Game. HY Art Director Allison Miller explained: “To say it made me feel uncomfortable is an understatement.” Yes, it showed a product. No, it did not entertain or engage. The effort on this TV spot was the bare minimum, leaving a spot that was forgotten the second it left the screen. 

Honorable Mention:

Jeep – Anti-Manifesto

Jeeps Anti-Manifesto checked plenty of boxes on our “was it worth it” checklist. The audio was an accessory, not mandatory to the success of this spot. Jeep did a great job of showing, not telling what makes a Jeep special. HY’s CEO, Troy Peterson, deemed Jeep the overall Big Game advertising winner "Jeep had an incredible product demonstration.” Jeep’s Anti-Manifesto has nearly 3 million views on YouTube and many users commenting “man, this makes me want a Jeep.” A job well done. 

Social Media Winner:

Doritos & Mountain Dew – DORITOS BLAZE vs. MTN DEW ICE

Though audio was but an accessory for Jeep, it was critical in understanding this next spot. Not only did the 60-second spot featuring Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman lip-synching to Busta Rhymes and Missy Elliott dazzle viewers with fire and ice, but their social extension helped make it a natural and fun conversation piece on social media. HY’s Social Media Director, Pat Kopischkie, commented “A spot like the one made by Doritos and Mountain Dew is shareable, it starts a conversation. I think they did a great job of keeping that conversation going through the social extensions.” According to Facebook, 94% of all viewers keep their mobile phones nearby or in-hand while watching television. The collaborative spot by Mountain Dew and Doritos (both owned by PepsiCo) also featured a fire and ice Snapchat filter. The duo drove the highest number of tweets per minute during the #BrandBowl according to Social Media Today. Both Mountain Dew and Doritos promoted a new flavor in a way that was both engaging and entertaining. 


We laughed with Tide, we cried with Toyota, we cringed with Ram and we checked our power cords during the 30-second $5.2 million blackout. At Hoffman York, we celebrated The Big Game by holding our very own Souper Bowl, soup cook-off and commercial viewing party. To find out more about Hoffman York, check out our portfolio or Contact us at [email protected].  

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